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Feds: NYC pharmacy technician stole painkillers to sell

 A man walks outside of a Duane Reade drugstore February 17, 2010 in New York City.
A man walks outside of a Duane Reade drugstore February 17, 2010 in New York City.
Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Federal authorities are expected to unseal an indictment Tuesday charging a pharmacy technician with allegedly stealing prescription pain pills from a New York City drug store to sell them for cash, according to court papers.

Nereida Gutierrez, 38, who lives in the upstate town of Walkill, was expected to be arraigned Tuesday at US District Court in Central Islip. She has been charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Court records show she was arrested in June and released on a $250,000 bond. Her attorney, Peter Citrin, told Newsday Gutierrez would plead not guilty. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to court papers, Gutierrez was working as a pharmacy technician for a Duane Reade store in Manhattan in 2011 and 2012, when she was allegedly “regularly” stealing prescription oxycodone pills. Authorities said she would then allegedly sell the pills to drug dealers, who would then resell them on Long Island. Investigators tracked down some of her associates, who began cooperating with prosecutors, resulting in her arrest.

A state police investigator assigned to a Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force wrote in court documents that a loss prevention specialist at the Duane Reade store in Union Square, Manhattan, reported more than 32,000 pills had gone missing from the store while Gutierrez worked there. He said Gutierrez “was the prime suspect in the thefts.” Representatives for the retail chain could not immediately be reached for comment.

Authorities said a cooperating witness would buy the pain pills from Gutierrez before reselling them at various spots on Long Island. Prosecutors said the informant also told them Gutierrez was “selling pills to other narcotics dealers.” The witness’ alleged partner, who is serving a prison sentence, also told investigators that they too purchased the prescription medication from Gutierrez. Neither witness was identified in court papers.